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Thursday, August 20, 1998 Published at 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK


Entertainment

Poetry enters a revealing phase

Poet Tim Gadaski exposes what is behind the movement

The human body has been a favourite subject for poets through the ages - Shakespeare himself wrote "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun".

But not many poets have been prepared to use their own flesh to get their point across.

However, all that is changing with the opening of the first International Festival of Naked Poets at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Participating poets are saying that it is the start of a major new aesthetic movement across Europe to reintroduce and revitalise poetry.


[ image: The tribalistic performance of the Naked Poetry club]
The tribalistic performance of the Naked Poetry club
One of the featured artists revealing their art at the festival counts itself as part of the new Russian artistic movement.

Vladimir Yarumenko Tolstoy and his friend, Tim Gadaski, founded the Naked Poetry Club of Russia a year ago in St Petersburg..


Tim Gadaski on the inspiration behind going nude
To them, performing "au naturel" gives them a greater spiritual connection with the audience.

Natural exposure

Mr Tolstoy will dance The Spirit of the Young Deer, and his friend, Tim, helps him strip away the restrictive layers of contemporary life for that raw look.


[ image: A crucial part of the costume]
A crucial part of the costume
All that Vladimir is left wearing is a "shamanic tail" made from the fur of a snow fox and the legs of the Siberian rat.

But Emmanuelle Waeckerle has a more sobre approach. She uses her naked body on stage and that of her projected image as part of, what she calls, an "existentialist confession".


Emmanuelle Waeckerle says she is more popular than ever
She denies that undressing is sensationalist. Rather it is a way of exposing the superficiality of life.

"At college, one of my confessees called it the masquerade of life. We all like to pretend we are happy, that we have money, that we do this and that to cover up.


[ image: Emmanuelle Waeckerle makes her stark confession]
Emmanuelle Waeckerle makes her stark confession
"In that sense, I am interested in nakedness to get rid of all those pretensions," Ms Waeckerle says.

Nudity in demand

The naked poets say more and more artists want to perform in the nude. But critics are unconvinced that this is at the forefront of a new artistic movement. Instead they says these poets just want to strip.


Mr Gadaski says nude poetry is more personal
Mr Gadaski says it is not about exhibitionism but about revitalising poetry and responding to a growing demand for it.

He says: "When we were performing at one poetry evening, people were expecting us to be naked, but we came dressed because it was a place where they would want poets to be dressed.


[ image: The naked poets says audiences want to see more of this]
The naked poets says audiences want to see more of this
"And the audience was really angry and that was the moment when they pelted us with eggs and tomatoes.

"But as soon as we took our clothes off, it immediately stopped and it was actually a very nice evening," Mr Gadaski says.

And despite fears from the critics that nudity might actually turn people off poetry, about 20 other performers have come forward to bare their soul and everything else.



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